Anyone remember the fiasco related to our last attack on the Syrian state? It was 1983 .. following the attack on the Marine barracks, President Reagan decided to make the Syrians pay a price since everyone knew the attacks on the Marine barracks could not have been carried out without Syrian and Iranian coaching and support.
The Battleship New Jersey had been floating off the Lebanese coast for a week or so instilling a sense of foreboding in the Lebanese since there were many articles about the 2000 pound shell that could be fired for a 20 mile range. However, once the big ship began firing, and mostly just making big holes in the mountainside because there was a problem with the powder, and much of the firing was way off target. They did hit a Syrian command post and kill a few Syrian officers.
Overall, however, after the firing stopped, the Lebanese and Syrians found that the psyops benefit of the New Jersey was much greater than the actual damage it inflicted. It is credited with turning the Marine expedition from one of referee to one of a combatant.
The next step was the attack of naval aircraft on Syrian positions in the Bakaa valley of Lebanon. This was also a disaster as two aircraft were shot down, one made it to the sea, but one went down in Lebanon and the pilot was killed. The backseater was captured and resided in a Syrian jail for 30 days. Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakkan make the trek to Damascus to bail out the captured officer. It was a major embarrassment for the US, President Reagan, and the US Navy.
I’m repeating this story because we have no idea what exactly we will be doing, if anything to “make Assad pay a price” ( familiar words).
For days now the US press has been speculating when, where and what we will attack and why. Washington think tanks are churning out reams of studies on what and when. In fact Yochi Drezen writing for the periodical Foreign Policy, has indicated that we have pretty well told the Syrians everything they need to know to minimize the effect of an attack should it be initiated ( which is not a sure thing).
Reports by people who know, say the Syrian leadership are not scared and in any event, assured by Obama that he has no intention to unseat him, Assad can rest easy. A man, like Saddam and Assad who can kill thousands of his own people are not seriously worried about any loss of life. The regime leadership will be safely secured, deep in their bunkers, their locations totally unknown to our intelligence
Of course we will attack military installations, airfields, communication centers, regime headquarters facilities etc.. This is a given. Of course the rubble we will produce will be considerable, but the casualties to the regime people will be minimal, with probably more among the civilians.
Perhaps we will sent missiles aloft for about a week or at most two, after which Obama will recount the great effects achieved and return to his relentless campaigning and fund raising. The Syrians will emerge from the rubble, announce their defiance and declare the experience wasn’t so bad after all. ” Is this the best (worst) you can do?”
Were the Syrian regime fighting a conventional war this might have an effect, but this is a war of militias fought on one side by Islamists and militia in the pay of various warlords and would be emirs, and on the other by a few trustworthy Syrian praetorian guards and two regime militia organizations, the Shibiha ( ghosts) mostly a home guard type force, and a relatively new one, the National Defense Forces, trained to resemble the Pasdaran (Revolutionary guards) of Iran.
This is a brutal war of will and existentialism. Syrians are not Europeans and the air war launched on the Serbs in our Kosovo adventure will not greatly perturb Syrians used to war and violence for years. They are inured to the most brutal form of tribal sectarian warfare. The pristine warfare of an air campaign, particularly a short one will only solidify the rule of Assad. We will see him standing atop a pile of rubble surrounded by screaming cheering supporters announcing that “we Syrians have taken the hardest shots and we are still here…and we will seek revenge”…. and they will. Be assured of that.
Not only is the enemy is confused but the Obama deception plan is so imaginative that the the US military are equally confused: When, where, how and most of all..why? No answers here.